SteelSeries Apex 9 Mini Gaming Keyboard Review
If you’re looking for the perfect price/performance sweet spot in the SteelSeries keyboard lineup, the Apex 9 Mini is it. This is my favorite keyboard of theirs I’ve used, and I think it’ll be the most pleasing to the widest variety of gamers and keyboard enthusiasts. It isn’t quite as “full featured” as the recent Apex Pro refresh models, but amazingly it offers a few bonus perks that those more expensive models can’t match.
That’s right, I think it’s better than the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini, which I may have called the best new gaming keyboard of the year just six short months ago. If I had tried this one first, it would have won instead. Let me tell you why in this combination review article/mea culpa statement.
I wasn’t paid or asked by SteelSeries to write this, and I don’t use affiliate links in my stories.
The SteelSeries Apex 9 comes in two different sizes: a TKL model for $139, and a Mini 60 percent model for $129 (official site here). I tested the latter, which I managed to snag at Best Buy for a paltry $101 on sale. The bang-for-the-buck ratio of the Apex 9 puts these keyboards in an excellent competitive place against the rest of the gaming peripheral market, and also against SteelSeries’ own more expensive offerings.
Rather than the magnetic hall effect switches found in the Pro models, the Apex 9 uses optical switches produced in conjunction with Gateron. Unlike mechanical switches which use a physical contact mechanism to actuate, optical switches simply use a post to break a beam of light. This provides faster actuation and helps improve durability.
By default, the keyboard comes with linear yellow switches — but these aren’t just the standard ones you’d find inside other Gateron-switch-containing optical gaming keyboards. The switch stems are modified to be a little wider for increased key stability, and more importantly, these also feature two distinct actuation distances for users to choose between. In the SteelSeries GG software, you can choose a 1mm or 1.5mm actuation distance, labeled as “gaming” and “typing” modes respectively. This is a super cool feature that I haven’t personally seen on other optical switch…